President Tsai's itinerary during stopover in Los Angeles
On the afternoon of Monday, August 13 local time (morning of August 14 Taipei time), President Tsai Ing-wen concluded a stopover in Los Angeles and continued on her way to Paraguay and Belize. As the president's chartered aircraft headed to Paraguay, National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Tsai Ming-yen (蔡明彥) delivered a briefing on President Tsai's interactions with important political figures on her second day in Los Angeles. Noting that the stopover coincided with President Donald Trump's signing of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), President Tsai thanked the US executive branch (including the American Institute in Taiwan) and legislative branch for their long-standing support for Taiwan on a wide range of issues.
Deputy Secretary-General Tsai stated that President Tsai met over breakfast on the morning of August 13 (Los Angeles time) with New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. During the meeting, Governor Martinez said she would like to develop more comprehensive cooperation with Taiwan in areas like energy, education, and scientific research. In response, President Tsai mentioned energy cooperation between Taiwan and the United States, pointing out that Taiwan's Chinese Petroleum Corporation has just decided to buy US$25 billion worth of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States. This new energy arrangement has diversified Taiwan's energy sources and put a higher priority on clean energy. Purchasing LNG from the United States will also reduce over-dependence and potential risk associated with shipping lanes through the Middle East and other regions of potential conflict. That makes Taiwan's energy security arrangements more comprehensive and diversified.
Deputy Secretary-General Tsai then said that following the breakfast meeting, Taiwan's Minister of Education Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) joined Governor Martinez around noon to witness the signing of an MOU for educational cooperation by Director General Abraham Chu (朱文祥) of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles and the secretary of the New Mexico Public Education Department. Under that project, Taiwan and New Mexico will develop stronger cooperation regarding student exchanges and scientific research.
In addition to the breakfast meeting, said Deputy Secretary-General Tsai, President Tsai also met for a relaxed, pleasant luncheon with US Congresspersons Maxine Waters, Brad Sherman, and Andy Biggs. The president mentioned that Los Angeles holds a special place in her heart, because when she passed through the city 40 years ago on her way to Cornell University, the city made a beautiful and deep impression on her. During their leisurely chat, President Tsai mentioned that President Trump had signed the 2019 NDAA that morning. She thanked the US Congress for its long-standing support for Taiwan, as well as executive branch agencies, including the American Institute in Taiwan, for facilitating communications between Taiwan and the United States, so that Taiwan-US cooperation can continue to grow.
The deputy secretary-general also mentioned that President Tsai had a phone conversation earlier that afternoon with US Senator Marco Rubio, who told the president that he would fully support the upgrading of Taiwan-US relations. Senator Rubio also pointed out that the US Congress recently passed the Taiwan Travel Act, providing a legal basis that creates more space and opportunities to enhance Taiwan-US exchanges. During the phone call, the president thanked the United States, and especially Taiwan's friends in the US Congress, for their vigorous support for Taiwan. She said US authorities had made outstanding arrangements based on the principles of safety, comfort, convenience, and dignity for her delegation's US transit stops. She also invited Senator Rubio to visit Taiwan at the first opportunity.
Deputy Secretary-General Tsai then reported that in the afternoon, President Tsai received a personal visit from US Senator Cory Gardner, who chairs the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy (under the Senate Foreign Relations Committee). Chairman Gardner, who made a special trip to Los Angeles to meet with President Tsai, expressed concern about the suppression Taiwan suffers in the international community, and said the United States will give Taiwan its full support.
Senator Gardner then said that Taiwan enjoys bipartisan support in the US Congress, where the parties seldom reach a consensus, except about American football. In addition to affirming support for Taiwan's international participation, Senator Gardner also said he strongly supports the normalization of US arms sales to Taiwan so that such sales can be carried out more quickly and efficiently to meet Taiwan's national security needs. President Tsai responded that Taiwan will continue to enhance its cooperation with the United States on national defense issues. And in addition to strengthening cooperation with the United States, Taiwan will also actively improve its own defense capabilities. There has been a substantial increase in next year's national defense budget, and if there are any major military procurement cases, Taiwan will draw on special budget funding.